Preview: Apple iPhone 5

Apple has announced the iPhone 5.

Apple has announced its sixth generation iPhone, the iPhone 5.

The Apple iPhone 5 is the company's thinnest and lightest iPhone. Apple says it's the world's thinnest smartphone at just 7.6mm thick, though we're not sure about the validity of that claim given the Android-based Huawei Ascend P1 S measures 6.68mm.

The iPhone 5 is 18 per cent thinner than the iPhone 4S and 20 per cent lighter at 118g. The device retains an aluminium and glass construction and once again comes in black and white models. The iPhone 5 features the two tone design on the back that most rumours had suggested.

The iPhone 5 once again features a "retina" display with a pixels per inch rating of 326ppi. The screen is larger at 4in and now has a resolution of 1136x640. Apple says the screen is longer than the iPhone 4S's 3.5in panel but not wider "because of your hand". The thinner screen makes it easier for your thumb to stretch around the screen when using the phone, Apple said.

Apple has updated its default apps to take advantage of the iPhone 5's longer screen size and says third-party apps in the App Store will need to be updated to use all of the screen real estate. Existing apps will work by placing black bars at the top and bottom of the screen.

The biggest advancement in the iPhone 5 is 4G connectivity. Unlike Apple's new iPad, the good news for Australians is that Telstra, Optus and Virgin Mobile will all sell the iPhone 5 on their 1800MHz 4G networks Down Under. The iPhone 5 has a single chip for voice and data and a single radio chip.

The iPhone 5 has an updated A6 processor. Apple says it's two times faster than the A5 chip used on the iPhone 4S and has two times faster graphics. Despite the larger screen size and faster processor, the company promises the iPhone 5 has an eight hour battery life over 4G, so the battery should last longer than the previous iPhone 4S.

The iPhone 5 also has an upgraded camera. It remains an 8-megapixel sensor but now has a few new software features including a new panorama mode that can capture a 28-megapixel panorama image by stitching together images. The front camera of the iPhone 5 has also been updated and now supports 1080p video.

As widely rumoured before the launch, the iPhone 5 uses a completely new dock connector that Apple simply calls "lightning". The 8-pin port is reversible so you can plug the connector in regardless of the way it is facing. For older accessories that use the traditional 30-pin plug, Apple will sell two lightning adapters.

The iPhone 5 will use a new SIM card standard called Nano-SIM. It's a smaller SIM card than the Micro-SIM Apple used on the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S.

The Apple iPhone 5 will come with the newest version of Apple's mobile operating system, iOS 6. New features include the ability to make Facetime calls over 3G and 4G networks, built-in Facebook integration, a fullscreen mode in the Safari Web browser, enhanced Siri features and the ability to share images saved on your Photo Stream.

The Apple iPhone 5 launches on Friday 21 September in Australia and will be sold by all three major Australian telcos: Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. The iPhone 5 will also be sold outright through Apple's Retail Stores, and through the Apple online store.

The iPhone 5 will come in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models with Australian pricing starting at $799 for the 16GB model. The 32GB model will set you back $899 and the 64GB version will cost $999.

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